'Hindutva as a secular ideology' is not required in a "Secular State"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

'Secularism' is a dubious word, capable of diverse meanings and having huge potential to confuse the common man, leaders, intellectuals, religious fanatics, etc... "Given that more than 90 percent Indians, hailing from various religious communities, are conservative, tradition-bound and adherent of basic religious principles, the question of alienating the average Indian from religion is as good as chasing a mirage. Confusion regarding definition of secularism prevails primarily because of respected elite’s tendency to link it only with being non-religious, atheist and/or a-religious [src]."

This state of confusion has been set at rest by authoritative pronouncements made by the Supreme court in a nine-Judge decision on Bommai Vs Union of India case. According to the judgment,
  1. Secularism, in India, does not mean that the State should be hostile to religion but that it should be neutral as between the different religions.
  2. Every individual has the freedom to profess and practice his own religion, and it cannot be contended that "if a person is devout Hindu or a devout Muslim, he ceases to be secular."
  3. The neutrality of the state would be violated if the religion is used for political purposes and advocated by the political parties for their political ends. An appeal to the electorate on grounds of religion offends the secular democracy. Politics and religion cannot be mixed. If a state government does this, it will be a fit case for application of Art. 356 of the Constitution against it.
  4. It is in this sense that secularism is to be regarded as basic feature (also called as Basic Structure) of the Constitution [Courtesy, D.D. Basu].
"India, under the constitution, is a 'Secular State', i.e. a State which observes an attitude of neutrality and impartiality towards all religions. A secular state is founded on the idea that the state is concerned with the relation between man and man and not with the relation between man and God which is a matter for individual conscience [Dr.D.D. Basu]."

On the other hand the Sangh Pariwar's ideology of "Hindu Rashtra" is even more confusing. "The notion of "Hindu principles" (Hindutva)... is intended to be inclusive of the multiple indigenous traditions of India, including Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. However these religions do not consider themselves to be Hindu [wiki]." "Hindutva ideologues often try and confuse matters by claiming that India is already a Hindu Rashtra [The Hindu]." Ironically, BJP has never used the term "Hindu Rashtra". Lal Krishna Advani himself asserted that, "The term Hindu Rāshtra was never used during the Jana Sangh days, neither had it ever been mentioned in any manifesto of the BJP." In contrast to Advan's statement, " Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh openly espouges the concept of Hindu Rāshtra [wiki]."

The protogonists of Hindu Rashtra claim that Hindutva is a secular ideology and they argue that,
"Even Muslim and Christian Indians are Hindus, as their ancestors were Hindu, and despite their religion, their culture and heritage is the same as that of India's natural Hindu majority."
The extremists of Hindutva say that,
"So called Indian Muslims & Christians cannot be called as Hindu because their Holyland is not the Hindusthan but Arabsthan and Rome are their Holylands.Muslims and Christians cannot be called as nationals unless they abandon their faith in antinational religions like Islam and Christainity and also unless they embrace again their original religion from which they were forcibly converted to their present status [source]."
A (hindutva inspired) retired  IAS officer says,
"Defining Hindutva is formidable. It is beyond definition. Hindutva is neither Hindu religion, nor a political ideology. It cannot be expressed in concrete terms. It is an abstract value system that manifests itself in behaviour and reactions of Hindus in general. It is a mindset that Hindus have inherited. It represents their collective psyche. It is a way of life for that defines description."
"Hindutva as secular ideology is something which has not been clearly and unambiguously defined in any of Sangh Pariwar's literature [source]." On the other hand, Hindutva as secular ideology has not been proved in any of the BJP lead governments in the states. "If Hindutva is a tolerant political ideology which respects secular values, why is it that in all the States which are ruled by the BJP there is a systematic attack against Christians and Muslims? Why is it that tribals, who are not, and never have been, Hindu are being terrorized into converting to Hinduism? [source]"

For the sake of the argument, assume that Hindutva is a secular ideology. In that case, why do we need an another secular ideology when India itself is a secular state? The Constitution of India clearly says, "There shall be no 'state religion' in India. The state will neither establish a religion of its own nor confer any special patronage upon any particular religion." More over, Supreme Court of India has clearly defined the meaning of 'Secular State' (as we have seen above). In fact, the concept of secularism in Indian Constitution is much more wider than that of Sangh Pariwar's 'Hindutva as a secular concept'. Hence, Hindutva as secular ideologyis not congruous in a secular state like India.

The bottom line is, It is not just "terrorism inspired by Islamist fundamentalist groups or the dilemmas in Kashmir (despite their seriousness) that poses the greatest danger. It is our home-grown version of religious-political fanaticism striving for ever greater power that poses the greatest threat to our very existence as a secular and democratic polity and society [The Hindu]."


TW said...

My dear friend, blame it on my limited intelligence if you want, but I must say that this write-up appears to me nothing more than a collage of quotations and definitions, with nothing to substantiate your claim that "'Hindutva as a secular ideology' is not required in a 'Secular State'".

Only one paragraph is original. That too begins with "For the sake of the argument, assume that Hindutva is a secular ideology.."

You have quoted Shri. Advani from a wiki-page denying the presence of word "Hindu Rashtra" in any BJP manifestos. The same source quotes an article by Shri. H V Sheshadri in the book "Why Hindu Rashtra?" clarifying that Hindu Rashtra is not a theocratic state or a religious Hindu state.
You didn't quote that in your blog.
I didn't expect such a partiality from _you_ at least.
I would suggest that you take the pains of reading the above mentioned book which contains essays from many other Sangh-leaders on the concepts of Rajya and Rashtra, and of course the Hindu Rashtra, before any further writing on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Listen to this talk by Mrs. Radha Rajan ...


It clears a lot of misconceptions surrounding Hindu Rashtra.

BTW... there is no country in the world that is 100% secular. We either have Judeo-Christian State or Islamic State or Communist State or Buddhist State in most countries and there is no one country that is a Secular State. India has to be a Hindu Rashtra, or else it would turn out to be a Judeo-Christian State or Islamic State or Islamic State.

FYI, Secularism is a concept that is part of Judeo-Christian State which is not found in any Islamic State or Communist State.

In Hindu Rashtra we don't need secularism as there is a more profound concept called Dharma.

In another word, Hindu Rashtra should be a Dharmic State!

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This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.